Georgia raised Ty Bates grew up on Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and Alabama. Now, the singer songwriter infuses the same style of storytelling in his own music, touching his fans with meaningful, relatable songs. His self titled EP was released in 2014 and contains five tracks including his latest single "Runnin'." With plans for a busy year ahead, Ty graciously took the time to talk about songwriting, the single and more.
When you were young, your father, a Ford employee, took you to the plant’s company party. It was there that you saw Alan Jackson perform. Is it true that seeing him perform spurred an interest in music?
I was so young at the time, and I remember seeing him perform, but I don’t know if that was what spurred an interest in music. Growing up, I would always listen to tapes and memorize songs. When my Dad took me to the event, it was the first time I actually saw someone sing live, and it made an impression.
I grew up with two brothers and a sister. We played whatever sport fit the season, whether it was golf, football, basketball, tennis or whatever. I caught on fire as a child and that put me out of commission to play sports for a little while. (Ty and his brothers were playing with gasoline too close to the camp fire and gas spilled on his basketball shorts). During that time, when I was probably eight or nine, I was singing a lot more by myself in my room. I knew that I was probably never going to play for the NBA, so it was then when we really made the connection that I can do more than just shoot a basketball, and that’s when the music took off.
Your mom played a big role by encouraging and supporting you to sing.
My mom was the first one who encouraged me to sing. We had an intercom system in house and she would be sneaky and turn it up while I was in my room singing. She would listen downstairs and later on would tell me stories where she would say to my dad “listen to this, Ty’s up there singing, and he’s pretty good!” My mom is very strong and once she gets going on something she’s super supportive, even when it gets hard. When you’re a kid you want to go hang out or play sports, but she kept me going and focused on the music.
You sang a lot privately, in your room, so when was it that you began singing publicly?
I started doing talent shows when I was around ten years old, then I sang in church and every weekend I would sing at the flea market. It just kept going from there. I would sing at beauty pageants and before I knew it I had a residency At Six Flags over Georgia. After high school, I moved to Myrtle Beach and did shows there during the summer. Eventually I moved to Nashville to pursue music, all the while working a bunch of odd jobs, while singing and putting the band together.
You have many traditional influences and the EP covers all types of songs from ballads to more up tempo numbers. Is it your intention to keep your songs geared towards a traditional sound?
I never try to gear the music to anything in particular; I let it go where it goes. I like to keep that classical side, and not get too modern, but it happens the way it happens. There is no way to pinpoint how a song is going to turn out and I don’t want to limit anything when we’re writing. A song will take us where it takes us then, when we listen back, we make sure it’s what we want.
Even though we’re from Georgia, we’re more of an Allman Brothers sound, not a bro country sound. I love all of those bands and music; I just have a preference of what I like playing, and what I think people want to hear. In the grand spectrum of things, we want our sound to be unique.
All of the tracks on your self-titled EP, which was recorded at Warner Brothers Studios, you wrote or co-wrote. Is it important for you to have songs that you have written on your album?
It is to an extent. There are two ways of looking at it. I enjoy writing songs and know if I wrote a song then it will be about something I’ve dealt with and experiences I have had. Those songs tend to be more intimate to me. However, these days there are so many good songs and songwriters out there it’s hard to pass up really good songs when you hear them. I know that the fans want to hear, and appreciate, a good song and I want to sing a good song, whether I wrote it or not. If I can’t write a good one that makes the album, I want to find a good song for the album.
Now a days it is all about the song, the best song wins really.
I have written by myself for so long, that co-writing is like a whole other world. It’s something to walk into a room, share feelings and end up writing a song. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. I get to listen to someone else’s perspective about, or ideas for, a song which is cool. Most of the time though, these co-writers have now become my friends, so co-writing is like hanging out with friends and having a good time while you make stuff up. (laughing)
“Runnin’,” about the simple things in a relationship that make a female content, is your current single. What’s the story behind that song?
I wrote the song with Steve Dean, who has had many number one singles. The song spawned from the idea that most of the time all a girlfriend really wants from a relationship is more time and attention, and she’ll be happy.
My girlfriend and I have had a long distance relationship for years now. She hasn’t broken up with me thankfully, so it’s not a true story! (laughing)
What are your professional plans for the year?
We are going to keep it pretty busy this year. I have co-written a few songs and cannot wait to record for a new EP, hopefully in the next month or so. There’s also a song I love that I didn’t get to use last time because another artist was going to use it, but I got it back and want to put that on there as well. We’d also really like to get a single to XM radio.
We’ll be keeping the shows going because that’s how we get the word out about the music and make new fans. So far this year, we have been on the road every weekend. We have a few opening spots lined up and then there is festival season, where it gets very busy.
I love performing live. I like to play, but I also like to entertain. I try to gear the show to the fans so that everybody always has great time.
Finally, I always like to know, is there one recent release that you cannot stop listening to?
Joe Nichols’ latest record actually. I’m a big fan. I love his voice and have been listening to that one a lot.
For more information visit his official website
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